Today, Shakira becomes the first Colombian to get her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sure, the whole thing is kind of a racket — when the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce "honors" you with a star, it also requires you to cough up a $30,000 "sponsorship fee" — but considering that The Walk Of Fame is one of the most well-known American landmarks, it's embarrassing how few black, Asian and latino entertainers are represented.
…Of the 2,354 stars on Hollywood sidewalks, only 3.4% of them belong to Hispanics such as Shakira, a CNN analysis shows.
The figure is 5.1% for African-Americans and a mere 0.4% for Asians, according to an analysis of the stars on the Walk of Fame.
Those figures fall short when compared with those minorities' representation in the nation's overall population: 16% for Hispanics, 13% for African-Americans and about 5% for Asians.
The problem, as we all know, is how relentlessly homogenous Hollywood is. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929, and the film business has remained overwhelmingly white and thin. No African-American has ever won an Oscar for best director (only two have ever been nominated: John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood and Lee Daniels for Precious). Ang Lee is the only Asian (and non-Caucasian) to have won best director — for Brokeback Mountain. And the stars are a finicky affair, since an honoree also has to agree to be nominated. None of it makes any sense. For instance: Denzel Washington does not have a star, but Jackie Chan does. And Mickey Rooney — whose performance as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast At Tiffany's is one of the most racist and cringe-inducing things ever in a "classic" movie — has three stars.
Obviously Hollywood has some work to do. And Steven Ross, a University of Southern California history professor and author of Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics says Hollywood "is not the consciousness-raising industry. This is the money-making industry. They will always follow the money trail. If they see more Latinos going to movies, they'll feature more Latino stars." Wait, what? This country boasts over 50 million hispanics, 38 million black folks and over 14 million Asians. Right now they go see lots of movies featuring white people. Why should they have to go to the movies "more" to see themselves represented on the silver screen?